This is an excessive growth of hair which may be generalised or localised. It may be due to metabolic disturbance or drugs, or simply a feature of a localised lesion such as a mole.

Hirsuties due to virilising tumour


It is clearly important to treat any underlying cause and this will usually improve the condition. Otherwise treatment is symptomatic and includes:

• Removal of hair by shaving or hair removing creams.

• Electrolysis and diathermy, which gives permanent destruction of the hair follicle.

• Antiandrogen drugs such as cyproterone can be used under specialist supervision.

Further reading

Orfanos CE, Happle R. Hair and hair disease. Berlin: SpringerVerlag, 1990

Rook A, Dawber R. Diseases of the hair and scalp, 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific, 1997

Causes of hypertrichosis

• Naevoid—in pigmented naevi and Becker's naevus

• Acquired—porphyria, hyperthyroidism, anorexia nervosa some developmental defects, for example, Hurler's syndrome, tumours (hypertrichosis lanuginosa), drugs (diazoxide, minoxidil, ciclosporin)

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